This book explores the concept of certainty, a term which is widely used in everyday language to designate a psychological experience or feeling but is rarely considered controversial or politically charged. The Feeling of Certainty argues that conversely this most ordinary of feelings plays a key role in shaping identity formation, social exclusion, prejudice, and commitment to political causes. The authors question what it means for the subject to feel certainty about her or his relationships to self and others. From where does the feeling of certainty originate, and how does it differ from modes of thought that are open to scepticism about the order of things? They draw on a wide range of theories, including those of Freud, Klein, Lacan, Wittgenstein, Bion, and Jung, challenging readers to consider the world of ideologies, symbols, and stereotypes in which certainty is entrenched, as well as the inter- and intra-psychic processes and defence mechanisms which form the unconscious foundation of the experience of certainty. This collection will offer valuable insight to scholars of psychology, politics, social science and history.
Nikolay Mintchev is a research associate at the Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London, UK and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, UK, where he was previously a lecturer. He specialises in ethnic diversity, social transformation and psychosocial approaches to identity and difference.
R. D. Hinshelwood is a professor in the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, and previously Clinical Director at The Cassel Hospital, London, UK. He is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He authored A Dictionary of Kleinian Thought (1989) and other books and articles on Kleinian psychoanalysis. He has an interest in how psychoanalysis may contribute to social and political science.
Chapter 1. Introduction: The Feeling of Certainty, Towards a Psychosocial Approach.- 2. The Mentality of Conviction: Feeling Certain and the Search for Truth.- 3. What is Subjectivity and How Can We Study it Empirically? Understanding The Feeling of Certainty through Psychoanalysis and Ethnography.- 4. Haunted by Uncertain Refrains.- 5. Internal Racism: Belief in the Racist Mindset.- 6. Being Racist: The Certainty of a Pathological Organisation of the Personality.- 7. Numinosity and Terror: Jung's Psychological Revision of Otto as an Aid to Engaging Religious Fundamentalism.- 8. "Instead of Trying to Help You, They Try To Screw You": The Feeling of Certainty and the Mexican-origin Border Patrol Agents.- 9. Gender Certainty as a Defence: Oedipal Conflict in Wartime Sexual Violence.- 10. The Primitive Container of Fascism: Masculine Anxieties and Defences in Times of Trauma and Uncertainty.- 11. Collective Identities, Breivik and the National Container.